|Peter Paul Rubens, "Isabella Brandt," 1620|
For example, Rubens painted his wife Isabella with tenderness and affection, and gave her a certain mischievous and knowing look that charms us after four hundred years. You get a hint that she could be a bit of a tease, perhaps, but also rather sexy.
|Vincent van Gogh, "Portrait of the Artist's Mother," 1888|
Vincent van Gogh painted a picture of his mother from a photograph, giving us a sense of innate kindness behind her poorly hidden frown. Knowing their relationship the way we do today, it seems a telling image of the artist's mother. She was terribly worried about her eldest son throughout her life, and seems to have suffered greatly. The greens in the painting seem a bit much, but I suspect they were countered by a red that has faded to transparency over the decades.
|Paul Ceznne, "Portrait of the Artist's Father," 1866|
|Mary Cassatt, "Woman with a Pearl Necklace, in a Loge," 1879|
|Portrait of Bill, 2005|
In my own case, I've done some family portraits too. Here is a portrait of Bill Barber, my mother's second husband and a thoroughly admirable guy. Bill was the definition of "salt of the earth," and was the best thing that happened to my mother in her old age. I worked up this 20x16 oil from personal references and life sketches. Someone else will have to say what they actually see in this portrait, but my intent was to show the warmth and deep goodness of the man, making his face that of a man of the land, with the kind of pale forehead that farmers' caps produce. His shirt wasn't gray but I wanted an effect of chiaroscuro with no distracting color.